Monday, September 09, 2013

9-Sep-13: Snouts and troughs

Giving a hand in Brussels, May 2001: Chris Patten. Arafat,
Romano Prodi, Nabil Shaath [Image Source]
Among the public figures we have watched from afar, and occasionally met, in the twelve years since our daughter was murdered, some fall into a special category of individuals responsible for deeds so unconscionable that we wonder how they live with themselves. 

Most of that group are terrorists. The remainder form a small cluster of Western politicians and bureaucrats whose activities have been carried out in genteel office settings and parliamentary chambers, and whose impact was achieved by the work of pens rather than swords, bombs and poison gas.

With those thoughts in mind, we have been following in the past few days the crescendo of media attention being paid in the UK to the Patten/Thompson/BBC affair. For background, The Guardian offers a useful guide to the players ["Lord Patten, Mark Thompson and BBC payoffs: what you need to know"]. The expectation is that tomorrow (Monday) in the British parliament, some tough questions are going to be asked.

We have written about Lord Patten a number of times, both here in this blog and in the wider world - for instance, a decade ago in the Wall Street Journal: "Blood, Money and Education" (the text is here for non-WSJ-subscribers).

For now, and in light of what is happening in London tomorrow, we want to share some of what we wrote here seven years ago: "6-Oct-06: Crying poor: The terror-laden rise and rise of the Palestinian national payroll and the men who allow it to happen". This is not fresh evidence of anything. But - for those unaware of the earlier stages of the great man's career - it may be a small reminder of what angry people, ourselves included, have thought about some of Chris Patten's actions over the years, and particularly about his 1999-2004 term as European Commissioner for External Relations

Did he do anything morally or legally wrong in the current scandal? We have no idea but we trust the investigative and review capabilities of the House of Commons to do what the British public demands to be done. Readers with some sense of history may nevertheless feel that the allegations currently being aired about the chairman of the BBC Trust (Patten) resonate in certain ways. 

The Patten of today has been (since 2011) the official responsible for running the oversight body of the BBC and "protecting the interests of licence fee payers". On his watch, the BBC is accused of a "snouts in the trough" culture and "outrageous waste of licence fee payers' money". Patten himself is accused by a highly placed former colleague of "fundamentally misleading" parliament via the telling of "specific untruths and inaccuracies" (all the quoted phrases appear in that Guardian article).

With that "snouts in the trough" simile in mind, here are extracts of an article we posted on this blog almost seven years ago, on Friday October 6, 2006: "Crying poor: The terror-laden rise and rise of the Palestinian national payroll and the men who allow it to happen":
Don't be offended. But if you're a European who cares about what's being done with the taxes you pay to your government, the Palestinians are playing you for a fool. Not just you alone, but also your government, your politicians and your public-sector watchdogs. 
Four years ago, when a hot terror war here in Israel was at its peak with innocent civilians being killed and maimed daily, the European Parliament started an investigation into whether European money was funding the actions of the murderers and savages on our streets. We ourselves are parents of a child who was murdered in a 2001 terrorist outrage, one of the hundreds of Palestinian Arab and jihadist bombings that have afflicted Israeli society. So we personally paid close attention when the Europarliamentarians began looking into their own civil service and its actions. 
The European Commission is the executive arm of the EU government. During that period (2002 and 2003), Christopher Patten, a smooth, slick and utterly arrogant professional politician presided over an official European Commission program of sending huge sums of money into the maw of the Arafat kleptocracy, while denying eloquently out of both sides of his mouth that anything, Heaven forfend, might be wrong with any of this...
The culmination of that carefully stage-managed Euro self-examination was that a secret investigation by its internal watchdog, OLAF, ended with a strange sort of whitewash of the Patten-managed terror funding of the Palestinian administration. Strange, because while the headlines of the OLAF audit said "we found no problem", OLAF's report itself - for the handful of people who bothered to read it - said there was no reason to think that everything was kosher, and in fact there were serious problems with the way European money was finding its way from Brussels into the hands of the murderers of Jewish babies and the killers of teenagers like our daughter. 
At about the same time, the International Monetary Fund carried out its own audit. Its specialists found poor control mechanisms inside Palestinian government, huge sums 'diverted', rampant corruption and vast numbers of salaried jobs for people who did absolutely nothing (especially in the so-called 'security' arms of the PA.) ...
In 2005, matters got expensively worse when Mahmoud Abbas, who had stepped into Arafat's greasy sandalsquietly incorporated the gunmen of the Fatah-controlled Al-Aqsa Brigades into the PA, and assured them a monthly salary from the PA's payroll.  
That 2006 blog post then goes into detail of the descent of the post-Arafat PA into utter incompetence, still-deeper corruption, and new depths of hate-based education of its children and its society. (Things in many ways have gotten much worse inside the PA in the years since then.)

Then there's the matter of money - torrents of it, funding the lifestyles of the Palestinian inner circle and their cronies.
But for the ordinary man, woman and child on the littered streets of Palestinian settlements, life remains a bitch. Despite the largest, most sustained program of foreign aid in the history of mankind, Palestinian life continues to be lived inside garbage cans and slums. The money, most of it European, did not disappear, as people frequently erroneously say. It simply reached the hands of the Palestinian insiders who - for generations - have built personal fortunes by controlling its kleptocracy. And there it stays, as it traditionally has. (See "Arafat's Swiss Bank Account", a personal memoir by Issam Abu Issa, former chairman of the Palestine International Bank.) ["Crying poor"]
Patten was back in the UK by the time our 2006 item appeared, becoming chancellor of Oxford University and president of Medical Aid for Palestinians, and eventually the head of the BBC Trust. Meanwhile the European funds that lubricated the Palestinian Arab terrorism monster in his term of office produced hugely painful damage on both sides of the conflict. 

Even now, a decade or more later, the money flow from Brussels in the early 2000s and what became of it remains mostly undocumented and inadequately understood. The same is true of the role played by the bureaucrats and officials who allowed it to happen and who, in great measure, shielded it from unwanted enquiries.

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